While millions of people have taken advantage of easing coronavirus lockdowns to enjoy the outdoors, some of the world’s most populous countries have reported worrying new peaks in infections.

India, second in population only to China, reported more than 2,600 new infections, its biggest single-day jump yet, while in Russia new cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

The confirmed total death toll in Britain climbed near that of Italy, the epicentre of Europe’s outbreak, even though the UK population is younger than Italy’s and Britain had more time to prepare.

The United States continues to see tens of thousands of new infections each day, with more than 1,400 additional deaths reported on Saturday.

A young Nepalese girl is sprayed with disinfectant as she arrives to get free food distributed by social workers during lockdown

Health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infections unless testing is expanded dramatically once the lockdowns are relaxed.

But pressure to reopen keeps building after the weeks-long shutdown of businesses plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.

President Donald Trump has acknowledged some Americans are worried about getting ill while others are concerned about losing jobs.

Though the administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly the ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under criticism, the president defended the response and said the nation was ready to begin reopening.

“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Mr Trump said.

China, which reported only two new cases, saw a surge in visitors to tourist spots newly reopened ahead of a five-day holiday that runs util Tuesday.

Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai’s main tourist spots welcomed more than one million visitors, according to Chinese media.

Many spots limited daily visitors to 30% of capacity.

On the eve of Italy’s first steps towards easing restrictions, the Health Ministry reported 174 deaths in the 24-hour period ending on Sunday evening – the lowest day-to-day number since the national lockdown began on March 10.

Parks and public gardens were set to reopen on Monday.

 

A potentially troubling sign emerged in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, where a third of 500 people tested randomly were positive.

In the US, New Jersey reopened state parks, though several had to turn people away after reaching a 50% limit in their car parks.

White House coronavirus co-ordinator Deborah Birx expressed concern about protests by armed and mostly maskless crowds demanding an end to stay-at-home orders and a full reboot of the economy.

Mr Trump has encouraged people to “liberate” their states.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather … they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives,” she said.

“So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

If restrictions are lifted too soon, the virus could come back in “small waves in various places around the country”, said Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the Centre for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington

“Nothing has changed in the underlying dynamics of this virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the divide in the United States between those who want lockdowns to end and those who want to move more cautiously extended to Congress.

The Republican-majority Senate will reopen on Monday in Washington.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is staying shuttered.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to convene 100 senators gives Mr Trump, a Republican, the imagery he wants of America getting back to work, despite the risks.

Elsewhere, Russia’s latest tally of infections was nearly double the new cases reported a week ago.

More than half of Russia’s new cases were in Moscow, where concern is rising about whether the capital’s medical facilities will be overwhelmed.

Indian air force helicopters showered flower petals on hospitals in several cities to thank doctors, nurses and police at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic.

An Indian air force helicopter showers flower petals on the staff of INS Asvini hospital in Mumbai, India

The country’s confirmed cases neared 40,000 as the lockdown of its 1.3 billion people was extended by two more weeks, but with some measures relaxed.

The official death toll reached 1,323.

In Mexico City, where authorities expect infections to peak next week, workers will turn the Hernandez Rodriguez Formula 1 racecourse into a temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients.

Governments have reported 3.5 million infections and more than 247,000 deaths, including more than 67,000 dead in the United States, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

Deliberately concealed outbreaks, low testing rates and the severe strain the disease has placed on healthcare systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is undoubtedly much greater.

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